Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur is recovering after battling through quadruple bypass surgery on his heart and the removal of one-third of his right lung due to cancerous cells this fall.
The 68-year-old shared the story of his medical crisis with NHL.com’s Dave Stubbs, where he detailed how a routine checkup saved his life.
Lafleur went into see his doctor in late September as a standard procedure to have his helicopter pilot licence renewed when the echocardiogram alarmed his doctor.
“The doctor looked at my echocardiogram and said, 'You're sick.’” Lafleur told Stubbs. “I replied, 'No.' And he said, 'Yes, you are. Do you know a cardiologist?' I said, 'Yes, one of my good friends,' and he told me, 'Call him right away.'
“I said, 'What for?' and he repeated, 'Call him right away.' I sent a photo of his notes by phone to Benoit (Coutu, his cardiologist). He called me and said, 'Be at the hospital at 6 o'clock tomorrow morning.'"
Doctors found that Lafleur had four coronary arteries fully blocked, a fifth clogged at nearly 90 percent and operated almost immediately. In the process, doctors discovered cancerous tumours on his right lung, and two months later Lafleur underwent another operation where one-third of his lung was removed.
After a few weeks of recovery, Lafleur was told by doctors that he wouldn’t need chemotherapy or radiation therapy moving forward.
“It's unbelievable, the support I've had. It's been so encouraging, I can't thank people enough,” Lafleur said. “I've been told by so many, 'Don't worry, things will turn out well, take it one day at a time.’”
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